Thursday, August 19, 2021

Some Degree of Belief in Many Worlds

I posted about The Underground Cult of Many-Worlds.

Steve Hsu is in the cult:

I listed a number of prominent theorists who have expressed some degree of belief in many worlds. ...

Q1. (largely mathematical): Does the phenomenology of pure state evolution in a closed system (e.g., the universe) reproduce Copenhagen for observers in the system? ...

I believe the evidence is strong that the answer to #1 is Yes, although the issue of the Born rule lingers ... 

[He calls Y* the belief in Many Worlds time evolution, possibly without the ability to make predictions.]

I believe (based on published remarks or from my personal interactions) that the following theorists have opinions that are Y* or stronger: Schwinger, DeWitt, Wheeler, Deutsch, Hawking, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Zeh, Hartle, Weinberg, Zurek, Guth, Preskill, Page, Cooper (BCS), Coleman, Misner, Arkani-Hamed, etc.

But there is a generational issue, with many older (some now deceased!) theorists being reticent about expressing Y* even if they believe it.

So he advocates Many Worlds, but note carefully what he is saying.

First, Many Worlds rests on a mathematical hypothesis that has never been proved. These theorists believe in pure state evolution, but there is no known way to make that correspond to what is observed. It is just a conjecture that some people believe in.

Second, there is the "issue of the Born rule". That is, there is no known way to make any predictions from Many Worlds theory.

Third, all the big-shots believe in Many Worlds, but are embarrassed to publicly admit it!

Presumably, Many Worlds will take over when the big-shots die off, and the next generation cites it as conventional wisdom.

The idea that Feyman, Gell-Mann, and Coleman spent their whole lives explaining quantum mechanics, but were too insecure to spell out their true beliefs, is bizarre. I don't believe it.

Those men ought to be embarrassed, if they believed that some theory reproduced quantum phenomenology, without the ability to make predictions. The concept does not even make any sense. If a theory does not make predictions, then it is not reproducing any phenomFurthoerenology.

The whole thing is bizarre. Hsu seems like a man who is grounded in reality, but this is all one big fairy tale. I don't know who anyone can take it seriously.

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne writes:

Among the accusations were these:

a. You can’t prove atheism. This amuses me because atheism is simply the failure to accept the existence of gods, mainly because there’s no evidence for them. But yes, you can’t prove that there’s no god because you can never prove a negative like this. But you can’t prove that there are no fairies, either, yet I remain an a-fairyist. ...

e. Atheism is a faith, like religion. This old chestnut is equally risible. Atheism is LACK of faith, for faith is believing in something without sufficient evidence. Atheism rejects belief in god because there is no good evidence for him (or her or it).

I used to agree with this, as a legitimate scientific view. It seemed reasonable that a hard-headed scientist would deny anything that lacks solid evidence.

Not any more. Now I learn that all those big-shot atheist scientists cling to beliefs that have no more evidence than fairies.

Furthermore, they are all Leftists. You cannot convince me that Atheism is non-political, if every single intellectual atheist leader is a Trump-hating Leftist. These intellectuals just have their own fairy beliefs.

I guess it is possible that some of them are closet Trump-supporting Christians, but are embarrassed to admit it, just as they are embarrassed to wholly endorse Many Worlds. If so, we should stop listening to them on anything, as they would be cowards afraid to speak their minds.

While all these smart physicists disclaim any need to define or predict probabilities, ie, Born Rule, I wonder if anyone takes the notion seriously anymore. I see our most prestigious Science journal has published:

Trading of animals susceptible to bat coronaviruses is the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic ...

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has properties that are con- sistent with a natural spillover (9). Although carriage from a bat cave of a sarbecovirus close enough to SARS-CoV-2 to be the pro- genitor as a research sample to the WIV [Wuhan Lab] is theoretically possible, such a scenario would be extremely unlikely relative to the scale of human-susceptible animal contacts routinely taking place in animal trading. Alternatively, bat guano (feces) is collected for use as fertilizer, again on a much larger scale than irregular research visits to bat caves, consistent with rare but ongoing SARSr-CoV transmissions to humans in rural areas (7, 12).

It is just not clear what they mean by "likely" and "unlikely". These terms have definite meanings in Mathematics and Statistics, but I am not sure the terms are being used in the same way. They don't seem to have any evidence that the virus did not start in an animal, and then get modified by the Lab.

The authors are British and Chinese. That should not matter if the article had data to back up what they say.

Update: Here is another paper claiming evidence against a Wuhan Lab leak. I haven't studied it.


  1. One can have the Born rule for measurement probabilities *without* the L├╝ders transformer acting to change the state after measurement. This requires that we only use Quantum Non-Demolition measurements (that is, all measurements must commute with all other measurements), which can be a heavy-handed way to model experimental results, but it is possible.

  2. So, let's just play a game of improbabilities...

    Once upon a time...

    There was a disease outbreak...

    and its first recorded cases were a couple of blocks from a virology institute in Wuhan which focused on COVID...

    where coincidentally they were doing forced gain research on said disease...

    And where some of the very researchers involved in forced gain COVID research apparently were hospitalized with severe COVID 19 like symptoms...

    and their research just happened to have been funded in good part through the duplicitous efforts one Dr Fauci (the 'expert' who doth protested waaaaay too much claiming no such research was even taking place, except on the list of donors at the Wuhan institute itself... and apparently in his very own emails)...

    and who just happened to have financial ties to the very drugs to being developed for said cure to said disease of 'unknown origin'...since according to him they still have no clue where said disease originated from...

    after almost two years and counting...

    Nah. I don't see a likely pattern either. Must be a vast right wing conspiracy.

    Just for the record, anyone who thinks a surgical mask prevents the spread of air borne viruses, really should do their god damn homework before they pretend to be concerned about 'the science'.

    It is absolutely disgusting how many doctors and scientists were silenced in the name of the scientism of a very selective 'consensus' due to purely political pressure. The Federal government has zero credibility at being scientifically objective about vaccines when they can't even demonstrate them to be effective and safe before the FDA before demanding they be mandatory. I trust in freedom more than the opinions of said 'experts'.

    “Science is the organized skepticism in the reliability of expert opinion.”
    Richard P. Feynman

  3. His list of Many Worlds supporters is quite off.

    Feynman is explicitly on record as not liking May Worlds and his sister confirmed he viewed the theory in the Copenhagen manner (see Mermin's "Why quark rhymes with pork")

    Gell-Mann in his popular book "The Quark and the Jaguar" (and recorded interviews) again explicitly says things along the lines of MWI making basic errors/all worlds being equally real has no meaning.

    Hartle has the same view which can be seen in many papers co-authored with Gell-Mann or more recent single author ones.

    Scwhinger always explained and taught QM as being derived from the same principles Bohr, Heisenberg and Pauli used. See for example his essay about the interpretation of QM in Schweber's "QED and the men who made it" or his textbook "QM: symbolism of atomic measurement"

    I could go on. There are similar explicit refutations for Zurek, Wheeler and Page.

    It's just a case of desperately hoping that authorities agree with you.